Member 2265
3 entries

matthew waldman frsa (M, 56)
new york city, US
Immortal since Jun 11, 2009
Uplinks: 0, Generation 3

nooka blog
nooka site
my articles in japanese
product designer and brand development creative motivated by the promise of a utopian future. my products can be found in museum and fashion shops worldwide. bilingual english/japanese. adjunct professor at the parson's school of design. fellow of the royal society of the arts. sometimes fine artist.
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    universal communication
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    universal communication

    this really should've been my first post.

    i hope to use my posting space on spacecollective to expand the dialog on universal communication. some of the major obstacles to truly moving forward with technology and our future as a planet is communication. it is unfortunate that the dialog on this issue becomes an emotional one for many individuals. i find even educated people regress to emotional arguments as to why one must preserve language as intrinsic to individual cultures – which is valid to a point – but to them i always ask 'how can you argue that the range of emotions or intellect is limited by any one language?'

    these arguments get in the way of truly analyzing the economic and ecological impact of maintaining so many world languages when we can do so much more when resources are pooled [look how india has benefitted from outsourcing simply by having a large english speaking population. how many man-hours, ecological resources and electricity are used in translating documents, books, entertainment in the most basic of international interactions and what is the carbon footprint of this activity?].

    now, i know i am not the first person to obsess over this issue and i know i won't be the last. my argument is only more difficult by being an english speaking american with english [and america] being viewed as some kind of imperial force by many. to my own defense, i am bilingual in japanese and not a huge fan of english grammar. that said, japanese [and chinese] are have too complex a writing system to be a truly universal language and we all know what joke esperanto is. this does not mean the discussion on how important this issue is over, and i have many ideas on these themes which i will share here in future posts. i believe we can be respectful of all languages and cultures and still see that the need to choose one language for the planet is both logical and imperative.

    not to contradict myself but there is a wonderful word in japanese for "universality" and it is this i made into an image to illustrate this post. the definition translates as: things that are common to everything. example: universal human rights. universally accepted ideas/concepts.

    why let language get in the way?

    Fri, Jun 12, 2009  Permanent link

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    collective matt     Fri, Jun 12, 2009  Permanent link
    To me language is simply the best tool we currently have to understand one another. Complex language is what defines humans and sets us apart from the other animals. It seems like English is quickly becoming the universal language, there are now more Chinese that speak English than Americans who speak English.

    I have pondered what it would be like to create a new language, one which conveys meaning without the use of symbols. Maybe in the future when we have true telepathy we can directly access the thoughts and memories of others. This is a big step towards the collective consciousness. It is our ability to communicate true ideas, thoughts, and emotions to others which will save humanity from our own destruction. I am all for eliminating the barriers of language, and English is definitely not the perfect language. If there is no miscommunication then there will be no misunderstanding.
    NOOKANYC     Fri, Jun 12, 2009  Permanent link
    thanks for the comment, and i agree. miscommunication is something that one should strive to eliminate, but is not a fault of language per se, there are simply some things that can not be conveyed with exactitude in written or spoken language alone, and for this we have art and other visual languages to give depth and emotion. i believe they will evolve together to one master form, but we need one language for the planet as a foundation for such an evolution to take place.
    LED     Tue, Jun 16, 2009  Permanent link

    Via @Wildcat2030 few days ago...
    NOOKANYC     Tue, Jun 16, 2009  Permanent link
    i would say that culture plays more a role in shaping the way one thinks than language. your parents [surrounding community and its culture(s)] can teach you right from wrong, imbue you with an inquisitive attitude, and instill a set of ethics in any language. language is a tool for communication.

    here's a fun example: there are no curse words in japanese. there are no words equivalent to "mother f#cker" or the way "bitch" or "ass" is used pejoratively in many other languages. does this mean japanese people think differently in the sense that they don't need pejorative language? the answer is no, the japanese can make each other feel just as bad as using curse words by using different grammar – the effect is the same. this give the false impression to many foreigners that the japanese are nicer in general, but in reality, they are simply more polite [again, a function of culture, not language. you can be as polite in any language [if you chose].

    japanese culture dictates a different use of language, not a different thought pattern. the same cultural pressure of centuries of high population density may very well produce similar patterns in a different language group elsewhere.

    another great example is how different cultural groups, all whom speak english, perform differently in school and careers within the USA. again, the studies point to the cultural expectations of the sub groups and not the language spoken by the individuals as contributing to higher success.

    LED     Tue, Jun 16, 2009  Permanent link

    I am a huge fan of Japanese culture! They're not simply "more polite"...
    They have much more respect for the others as I never seen before in my life!!! And they live this respect. It's not just a concept. For me they have lots of steps further of our Western culture.

    But maybe I dind't understand you properly, so I will read again.

    That link was a simply contribuition to your post. And I still think there's a connection...

    Arigato gozaimas!
    LED - a Japanese accidently born in Brazil :)
    NOOKANYC     Tue, Jun 16, 2009  Permanent link
    thanks for the excellent link!

    on japanese culture: that's quite a generalization you make. 日本に長く住んだ日系人と話したら色な違う意見は出てくると思いますけど。on the link thing, new to spacecollective, need to give myself a tutorial on all the features!
    nagash     Tue, Jun 16, 2009  Permanent link
    well, this very site is an international gathering, right? I'm also from Brazil, and we are using the english language in this conversation... so, I think it's a non-issue. we can discuss about the best way to go, both moral and culturally speaking, but meanwhile, people all around the world will still use, adapt and pervert the english language, in a crescent scale.

    I believe that in the future, this "international language" will deviate so much from the english of nowadays that it will become a different language, merged with foreign words and grammar. like it was proposed with the esperanto, but on a natural flow... or maybe we and up with a whole new generation of similar dialects, like what happened with the latin in europe.

    but every language has it's beauty, charming peculiarities deeply linked with cultures and I hope we never lose this plurality. It's VERY practical and convenient that the whole world speak the same language.. but it would be catastrophically BORING if that's all : (
    NOOKANYC     Tue, Jun 16, 2009  Permanent link
    nagash: thanks for the comment. i think humans at a stage where there is one universal language will have enough enlightenment, technology and entertainment to keep them safe from boredom.